Ahhh, the start of a New Year, and the pressure to make New Year’s Resolutions. Have you been asked what your resolutions are? I hate that question – please don’t ask me! Like many people, I never stick to my resolutions and then I feel crappy. After years of repeating this, I just don’t make resolutions anymore. With one exception: I resolve to continue living my life guided by who and what matters to me. If this interests you, please read on!
The start of a new year is a great opportunity to reflect on yourself and your life and think about what changes you want to make. January 1st gives us a ‘calendar moment’ to rebuild ourselves.
So why don’t we keep our resolutions? There are lots of things that can get in our way. Often, we make resolutions that just aren’t realistic, such as going to the gym everyday – do you even like the gym – do you like exercise? Aiming to do things 100% of the time is often a recipe for disaster.
Sometimes we make resolutions that don’t fit with our sense of who we are. If you believe, for example, that you are unworthy, you aren’t likely to do things that a worthy person would do, such as take better care of yourself.
For others, we make resolutions hoping they will provide some magical motivation to do things on our procrastination list: exercising more, managing money better, changing our eating / drinking habits, stopping smoking, or relaxing more. Yet the question remains, once we are eating ‘better’ and not smoking, then what do we want life to be about? The answer to this might provide the motivation you are waiting for.
Keeping resolutions means changing your behavior. Consider these simple ideas for behavior change:
- Choose an area of your life that you want to make changes in, perhaps your romantic life, your friendships, work life, or your health.
- Think about the person you want to be, on the inside, in this area of your life. What are your values? These are the qualities we take with us and can choose to live by, regardless of where we end up. Acting according to our values can be highly motivating. You might value, for example, being a determined and responsible employee, and you can certainly approach your work this way. You may not know the exact outcome weeks or months from now, yet you can choose to act on these qualities every day.
- Identify a specific change that you want to make that is consistent with your values. This could be something you want to change in the next few hours, days, or months. Think of it this way, if someone was watching you and they saw you doing your new behavior, what would they see you do? If you can’t answer this, your idea might not be specific enough or is not a ‘behavior.’ For example, I don’t know what ‘being responsible at work” looks like, whereas I would know if I saw you showing up to work on time.
- Intentionally head into each day with your values in mind, and try to take some steps towards the behavior change you want to make. You can set long-term goals and shorter ones. Consider starting with goals to cover the next few days. Then add in some goals for the next few weeks or months.
- Once you get going with one change, it may be time to add in more – go at your own pace.
This entire process is likely going to take out of your comfort zone and it’s worth it! Ask yourself this question: “How much you are really living and experiencing life when you stay comfortable, when there is no anxiety, no sadness, and no stress?” Change tends to happen when we push our boundaries. This doesn’t mean you will feel happy 24/7, no one does. It means you have a chance to feel more alive and fulfilled, with all the emotions that come with living.
If moving out of your comfort zone is tough, take little steps, one at a time. If it’s really tough, this is something I can help you with! If therapy is not an option for you, consider the Happiness Trap webinar series under the “What’s New” tab…it starts January 9th, 2018!
Don’t trust me on this: try it for yourself. Don’t forget to stand back and notice what happens.